Welcome to my blog, where you'll read about my family's progress in renovating our home - a custom-built board and batten (minus the battens) house built in 1975 on a rare 5-acre conservation-type piece of property in small town Ontario, boasting spectacular views of the village from the ridge at the back of the property (which I like to call, Ridgeview). When we moved here in the summer of 2010, the house had original carpets, flooring, cabinetry, windows, and decor. All it needed was a little TLC and a creative mind to remodel it, and so we got started...

You'll find links to some helpful home improvement sites and local contractors.

I also write inspirational poetry and quotes...so you'll catch glimpses of some of my work, and find links to my favorite sites and blogs, or you can follow my Poetical Soul blog (click here or the link at the top of the page).

Hope you enjoy your visit.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The leaves have fallen

Fall is both one of my favorite times of year (because of the vibrant colors), and least favorites...the time after the vibrant colors of the season, barren trees revealing once again the dirt and ugliness of the forest floor, until winter brings a cold white blanket to cover it again until spring. 

Oct 20-12 - view of back yard from the loft
Oct 27-12 - one week later

Monday, October 1, 2012

Harvest Moon Meditation

Hello Fall, and hello Harvest Moon.  Although it's cloudy out tonight so that I can't see the moon, the clouds did dissipate enough last night for me to catch a glimpse of the Harvest Moon...not as bright as I had hoped, but no less powerful.  I love watching the moon it all its brightness.  I stare, captivated by its light and energy, and listen to the wind blow through the trees.  There's a running joke I have with my husband on full moon nights - that there's no way I'm getting to sleep before the wee hours of the night, so I might as well do something productive. 

Since we've put the house renovations on hold for the time being, that productivity is poured into writing, and making jewellery - two of my favorite hobbies.  I tell people that's my therapy - doing something that I love, that requires enough focus for the task at hand to completely forget about everything else - an active meditation. 

Recently I shared a few of my poems with my writing group.  Because I write from the heart, a couple of my writer friends thanked me for being so open, and leaving myself vulnerable.  My response to their comments:   If you write for your own pleasure, you have only yourself to please...if you write to please others, then you’ll please no one.  I write what I write because it pleases me to do so – it’s therapy...I don’t feel vulnerable at all – quite the opposite actually – I feel liberated. 

There comes a point in one’s life when she lets go of the fear that holds her captive – fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of inadequacy, fear of loss, fear of pain...It is in that moment that one becomes free to truly live, and it is then that doors open and possibilities become endless.

So, let go of your fears and do what you love to do just for the love of doing it...the rest will come (being the start of a new season, it's the perfect time to do so...like detox for the soul). :)

Happy Harvest!

PS - Check out the new issue of Sibella Poetry Magazine - now available online.  I just love the flow of this issue.  My poem "My Life, My Path" appears on page 4.  It amazes me how all of us contributing writers come together from various walks and corners of the earth to create something with common threads, never once speaking to each other during the process. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Harvest Season - Blessings (a poem)

Fall views from the Loft
Well, Fall is officially here, and with it comes the Harvest Season and Thanksgiving - a time of reflection and giving thanks for all that we have.  Although we haven't made much progress this past year with Ridgeview renovations (in fact, no progress at all except developing floor plans and construction quotes), there has been progress elsewhere in our lives - my husband's recovery, personal growth, new (and rekindled) hobbies that bring us joy.  I had started making jewellery with positive messages back in the Spring, and over the last couple of month, have had the opportunity to donate some of my creations to various charitable fundraisers, and to hear some of the heart-wrenching stories behind those fundraisers.  It certainly makes me stop and take notice of the many things I have to be thankful for - my health and my family's health, our friends and support network, our talents......but especially each other.


Thank you Father Sky and Mother Earth -

Thank you for the gift of sight;
For the fiery leaves on autumn’s trees;
For the birds that sing their songs of hope;
For the waterways on which we float;
For clear blue skies and the warming sun;
And the moon’s light by which I pray.

Thank you for the gift of taste;
For apples and berries so juicy and sweet;
For vegetable gardens and herbs divine;
And succulent grapes that make fine wine;
For homemade pies and family dinners
Over which we love to share our days.

Thank you for the gift of touch;
For the softness of rose petals and baby’s skin;
For ocean waves and grains of sand
That massage my feet as I walk along this land;
For fallen trees and the cushioned grass -
Perfect spots on which to rest.

Thank you for the gift of sound;
For dazzling thunderstorms and lightning bright;
For the sound of rain that soothes the mind
To wash through thoughts that are so entwined;
For clouds to watch and images they create -
Products of our imagination.

Thank you for the gift of love;
For family and friends, all those I embrace;
For precious moments that make us smile;
For the beautiful people who make life worthwhile –
May their light forever shine
So brightly from their hearts.

Thank you Mother Earth and Father Sky -
For gifts of life, love and laughter;
For all of these gifts – priceless riches.

©Linda Spencer, 2012


It’s so easy for us to take for granted the things that we have and things we can do and people in our lives; often it’s only when we lose something that we take notice and realize what we had.  Take a few minutes each day to pause and reflect on all your wealth – family, friends, health, the ability to walk, talk, hear, see, think, create, touch, feel, love and be loved.  Be grateful. ~Linda Spencer

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Plumbing Joys (NOT!)

Ah, the joys of owning an older home...and "issues" that may arise. 

Last Spring, we had a clogged drain at the water softener - the softener cycled in the middle of the night, and backed up into the kitchen sink, onto the floor, down the stairs and back into the basement.  It was a huge mess.  The problem - sludge so thick in the drain pipe that it clogged solid.   It was easy enough to replace the affected pipe in an unfinished basement ceiling.

This weekend, the issue is the toilet in the main bathroom backing up into the bathtub when it drains.  The sinks have been slow draining for a while.  Then on Friday I noticed the toilet would bubble after draining a bath, or after flushing...until Sunday, then it just wouldn't flush.  Well, the toilet would fill when you flushed it, but it wouldn't drain.  I decided to leave it a bit to see if it would slowly drain on its own.  And when I started the tub water to have a shower, I noticed that the water started filling up in the tub.  It would then drain slowly.  Tried again - same thing - wouldn't drain.  The main floor and basement lines seems fine - the only problem is with the upstairs bathroom fixtures. 

So, off I went to find some heavy duty Liquid Plumber or Drano, figuring that would solve my problem.  Found the one that was right for standing water, and would only take seven minutes to work...nope, didn't work.  As soon as I ran the water in the tub again, it started filling again. 
Then I tried plunging the toilet, then the tub, then the toilet again, and that's when it started backing up into the tub.

Do a google search on "toilet backing up into tub" - it's quite a common problem.
It's interested to read all the solutions people have to such problems, but the best answers I found were on the following sites:

There's no doubt in my mind that you have a clog downstream from the tub in the branch drain line.
This can be snaked from one of two p[laces:
1. Pull the toilet and snake from there, **OR**
2. Remove the tub overflow plate and snake from there. (see image) Once you have the line cleared your backups should go away.

So, my husband and I tried plunging (even bought a new accordion style plunger, that's says it's the most powerful) both the toilet and the tub drain...nothing, except more sewage coming up into the bathtub.  We  also tried snaking the tub, after removing the tub overflow plate (as described above) - the snake wouldn't go any further than about 2 feet before it stopped, but nothing came back.  Same with the toilet - snaked through the toilet bowl until it stopped at about 3 feet in. 
Two days and several hours of labour later, we're no further ahead...actually, it's even worse (let's just say we're keeping the bathroom window open, using lots of air freshener, and keeping the bathroom door shut).  I think it's time to call the plumber!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Once in a blue moon (or several moons)

No matter where I am, I always find myself staring at the moon when it's full. Its energy pulls my gaze toward its direction (I am a Gemini, afterall...). Its light fills the sky and luminates the earth - no need for a flashlight on full moon nights when the skies are clear. And the loft at Ridgeview offers some of the best views to capture the moon on camera. 

Canada Day 2012 - at 140x digital zoom
Blue Moon - Aug 30-2012
Blue Moon - Aug 30 -2012
Canada Day moon 2012

Super Moon - Mar 2011

It's great to take some time out to just enjoy such spectacular views.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Crossroads II

It's not everyday that you find your dream home-and we did just that when we bought this place.  So, we decided that we're staying at Ridgeview. This community was our home before we bought this place, so it just wouldn't feel right leaving it. We will make whatever modifications that are necessary to our current house design to make it work for all of us - safety and accessibility features for my husband; loft views for me.

It now means going forward with formalizing plans, negotiating settlements, making budgets and altering plans to meet budget constraints.  This is where my husband and I differ in views.  He says, "Let's see how much money we have before we make any plans."  Whereas, I say, "Let's design and plan what we want first, then make changes to fit ourbudget."  It's easier to in my mind to plan for "perfect" and have a good idea of what that will cost, then make changes to your plans when you realize that you can't afford "perfect", than it is to start down a path which you know you can afford, but then realize you want really want this and can't do without that.  Then, before you know it, you've spent way more than you can afford, and other aspects of living suffer as a consequence (or, for so many, they end up losing their homes).

You should not give up your dreams just because life throws you curve balls.  You just find new ways of realizing your dreams, and it may take a little longer that you originally hoped to do so.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Have you ever come across something and just knew that it was meant for you?  Ever felt a pull so strong to something, that you felt you could never let go of it or live without it?  That's how I felt the first time I set foot in this house. It was love at first site.  Sure, it needed some TLC and a lot of work, but it just felt like home.  It's where I belonged.  Clear a few trees here; cut a few shrubs there; build a couple of sheds over there; flower gardens there, there and there.  New windows and doors, new siding, new roofs, some paint (a lot of paint), and it would be good as new.

Fast forward two years...my husband's accident last fall left him partially paralyzed from the waist down and unable to do what he used to do - the hard stuff, the digging, the clearing, the chopping, the rebuilding...we had only begun to scratch the surface of resurrecting this property to a more vibrant state. Now, we're at a crossroad - do we stay, or do we go?

Staying would mean extensive renovations and modifications to the house to make it accessible for someone with such a disability.  It would mean additions, and elevators and regrading and wheel chair lifts.  My husband not having access to the loft (which has the best view), but at least he would be able to access all other floors with the addition of an elevator. 

Moving elsewhere would have its own costs.  We'd have to find a place that was suitable for our family and accessible for my husband, and would likely be faced with renovations and modifications there as well.  It would mean giving up acres of ravine property with spectacular views, right in town, close to our friends and the kids' school.  It would mean giving up a country setting lifestyle we had always wanted.  It would mean giving up the dream of breathing life back into Ridgeview, and making it a place that draws people and wildlife (like it did to me the first time I saw it). 

How can one become so attached to a thing in so little time?  It's just a piece of land, just a building.  Everyone knows that home is where the heart is, so why should it matter where we live.  As I sit watching the full moon out the loft window, and feel its pull, it reminds me...some things just cannot be explained, they can only be experienced.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Have you ever thought, "if I could just change this, or that, then it would be perfect"?  What if you were given that opportunity, every day?  What would you do?  What would you change?  How would you make it "perfect" ("Perfect", after all, is only in the eye of the beholder.  There is no such thing, really.).

Over the last few weeks, even months, I've been doing just that - to our home.  I've been designing and redesigning floor plans, searching for ideas on the Internet, and in my overactive and creative mind.  I've spent countless hours on designs, to make a floor plan that would be just right - for all of us in the home.  It'll be adaptable to accommodate my husband's disability.  It'll maintain the loft that I like to call my zen space (it's my quiet and creative space...and I just can't give it up).  It will provide space for my boys to play, for my husband to relax and rehabilitate, and for me to work.  It'll have space for guests to stay.  I can see it in my head.  It'll be "perfect". 

Our lot's elevations present the biggest challenge in designing such a "perfect" space, at a cost we can afford.  There are very few designs that I found in countless hours of research that deal with such sloping elevations as ours.  And there is little we can do with our building footprint without getting into septic location issues and significant and unaffordable costs.  We also have multiple levels in our home (as you can see from pics in previous posts), so an elevator will be essential to meet the current and future needs of our family (more on elevators in a post to come.).  That certainly adds a very significant cost to the project.

If ever you're looking at redesigning your space (be it your home, your office, your garage or studio), I recommend you first ask yourself what you want.  How would you make your space "perfect".  Searching sites like the following will give you design ideas:

Then, once you know what would be "perfect", talk to a local building contractor about costs, and how you can perfect your space within your budget.  There are web-sites and resources that can provide guidance on costs as well, like those listed below.

Whatever you choose, don't be afraid to write down and plan out what "perfect" is for you.  Dream away - doors may open, and opportunities may arise to allow that dream to come to fruition.  The first step is to see it in your head, then get it out of your head and on to paper.  So, go ahead - design and create "perfect" :)

Thursday, May 31, 2012


I am so excited about the most recent issue of Sibella Poetry Magazine (now available online - see attached link http://clck.com/jmmg/spoetry/SIBELLAPOETRYsummer2012a.pdf) for good reason:  my poem, "Metamorphosis" is on page 9, and it showcases the wonderful poems that were this year's contest winners. 

"Metamorphosis" is a culmination of lifelong learning from changes in my own life, but was also inspired by the experiences of various friends.  One such friend (whom I only met recently in the Spring) just happens to be one of this year's contest winners (see "It Doesn't Matter Much..." by Jaisa Sulit).  She and my husband experienced similar accident injuries, and I'm blessed to now have her in our lives.  Another inspired me from a late-night chat we had about a piece of writing she had shared with our writing class. 

It is partially in knowing that I have great and wonderful friends (new and old - it's quite a large social network) that I am able to adapt quite well to difficult changes - changing jobs, changing lifestyles, changing circumstances - such as my husband's injury and on-going recovery. But even with adaptability, I've learned that you should never lose sight of your true self (believe me, I have, but have been quite fortunate to have found myself again - thank goodness!). We all go through change in our lives, some more than others, and some change more difficult than others. But it is through change that we learn resilience, we grow, we prosper. Just remember to be true to yourself through it all.

Ridgeview-Glen is still going through its process of metamorphosis.  We're now in brain-storming and design phases of renovations - quite a long process, with ups and downs, and unexpected turns itself.  More on this to come over the next few months.  Until then, cheers to change :)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Feeling (a Poem)

One of my favorite things to do is write poetry.  I've been writing for years, but life took over and I stopped for a while, and only rekindled my love of writing about 4 years ago.  I love to sit at my desk in our loft, listen to music (usually nature's own, from my open window) and get inspired.  "Imagine, Dream, Inspire" sit on the wall above my computer, along with framed art and the view from the loft out to the back yard and treed forest help to open the creative path that is sometimes cluttered in my head.  Often, I'm inspired by conversations with my friends.  Certain words that are said grab me, and work their magic into poetic verse. 

Last year, a casual friend introduced me to an online magazine that what having a poetry contest.  With the next issue of Sibella Poetry Magazine coming out on June 1, showcasing this year's poetry contest winners, I thought I would share the poem that led to the amazing opportunity of writing for Sibella Poetry Magazine this year.  Enjoy :)

(©Linda Spencer)
(Published in Sibella Poetry Magazine, inaugural issue Dec. 2011)

I see through the layers
That you fight so heavily
To keep wrapped up so tightly.
I feel the tears
That fall as you sleep at night
That you cry throughout daylight.
I sense your fears
And all of your sorrow
Of what will be for tomorrow.
I feel your doubt
In things you once believed
That now you can’t conceive.
But I see the light
That will brighten up your day
Trust that it’ll come your way.
I give you faith
To dream and to believe
In all good things that you’ll receive.
I sense your joys
That you’ll know your whole life through
Just believe them to be true.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Persistent Visitor

Ah, they joys of country living (in town) never cease...
Raccoons insist on making daily uninvited visits to our deck, where we keep the garbage and compost cans.  These visitors always persistent, noisy, and always leave a mess.  Garbage day is always a challenge.  Often I leave for work that day only to find compost all over the driveway (the compost bins are "supposed" to be critter-proof - obviously not so).  Last night they visited 3 times - once before we even went to bed, leaving a mess on the deck for me to clean when I let our dog out for her night time routine.  Again in the middle of the night, a visit which our dog alerted me to, leaving another mess (albeit a smaller one).  And again this morning when I got up, catching him in the act - that masked bandit!  I could have banged on the window or opened the door to chase him away.  However, he was actually being neat and discreet this time - entering into the compost bin to pull out his next handful; looking over his shoulder like a child on guard because he knows he's doing something he's not supposed to be doing.  Maybe I'd just let him do his thing, and finish off the whole compost...then I'd have nothing left to clean up (would this work on children too???). 

"maybe she doesn't see me"
"I'm being good...honest"
"Mmm, thanks for breakfast!"

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Watching Birds...

Last Spring, I counted 14 different kinds of birds at Ridgeview-Glen.  We had the brightest red cardinals, biggest blue jays I've ever seen, juncos, wrens, lots of chicadees, a couple of goldfinch, four pairs of morning doves, a pair of orioles, some woodpeckers, and robins in the yard.  Starlings came around too (who have decided to take up residence in our roof this year - not cool).  I watched the turkey vultures and crows fly around at the top of the ridge, and spotted a hawk.  The Jays were particularly amusing to watch, especially when so many came to feed at once.  Almost as many birds have come back this Sping, including the largest crow I've ever seen, who just wandering around the yard yesterday.  Many mornings have been spent with the windows open, staring out the back yard and listening to all their songs.  I love this place.

Male cardinal that comes by every morning
Watching birds while having breakfast
(©Linda Spencer, 2011)

Through the kitchen window
I see them playing in the spring snow
flying back and forth,
first two then six or seven,
and even ten landing on the feeders,
just long enough to nibble,
then off they go up to a tree,
take a look around
and back they come again,
stop first on the top of the hanger,
then down to next feeder,
to nibble on some more,
As I take a sip of coffee
And nibble on my toast.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

More Bugs...

We were in our local Canadian Tire last week, and I happened to walk by a display with books.  These books were about Ontario wildlife, birds, and bugs.  The one called Bugs of Ontario immediately caught my attention, since we've seen a lot of bugs here at Ridgeview-Glen (certainly more than I've seen in my whole life living on a farm!).  And it is Spring, so more bugs come out of the woodwork (so to speak).

fishing spider similar to
one we had in the house
I've already talked about box elder bugs and ladybugs, but there are so many other bugs that I've seen in the less than 2 years that we took over that I've lost count on the different kinds (not counting spiders, for which we've had at least 8 different kinds IN the house - that's a whole other topic altogether! And quite frankly, they make my stomach turn, especially ginormous fishing spiders carrying baby sacks that decide to take up residence upstairs...blahhh!  Good thing it came out of the woodwork before we actually moved in, while I was painting the kids' room, and my husband got rid of it!  With it's brown striped hairy legs and baby sack that it was carrying, he could barely cover it with one of those large red drinking cups...I've been very wary of spiders ever since.). 

Dog Day Cicada on our patio chair

I must say, we've had some pretty interesting bugs.  I think the most interesting bug I've seen so far is a Dog Day Cicada (pronounced "sick-AY-duh", "SICK-ah-DAHH" or "sih-KAH-duh").  This bug appeared on a patio chair on the deck last summer.  At first I thought it was a fly, but it was way too big (about 2 inches long), with its large bug-eyes and green/black body and beautiful transparent wings.  I tried taking several pictures, and managed a couple of good ones.  I had never seen one of these bugs before, and apparently they're pretty elusive (according to the Bugs of Ontario book), but have heard them for many years, always wondering what made that sound.  These bugs can be heard in the summer making incredibly loud buzzing sounds.  To me, the sound always seemed to come from the hydro wires, but apparently it's the male singing on a tree about 3 or 4 meters above ground.  It'll stop singing or fly away if you scare it.  Now I know it's the Dog Day Cicada, and I'll listen a bit more attentively this summer. 

Red Flat Bark Beetle
No such photo ops with one of the more recent sightings in our home - of a Red Flat Bark Beetle.  I saw this bright red bug that was about an inch long crawling up our bricked fireplace a couple of months ago.  It must have come in with the fire wood, since these creatures live under the bark of trees (they don't like to burrow into wood too much since they don't like to work hard to get around).  Because the Red Flat Bark Beetle bug live just below the bark, they make for easy pickings by woodpeckers who can hear them scratching below the bark.  These bugs aren't very common, but are a pretty good bug to have around - they eat other tunnelling forest pest bugs such as the larvae of various long-horned beetles and jewel beetles that damage trees.   

red dragonfly like the ones we had last summer
 My favorite bug sighting was of a red dragonfly last summer.  It landed right beside my foot - close enough to admire its beautiful red body and shimmery wings.  These are actually called meadowhawks.  They're smaller than the blue/green dragonflies (called darners), but are certainly no less beautiful.  Dragonflies lay their eggs near or on water.  They spend most of their lives as larvae (up to 6 years) and only a couple of months as an actual dragonfly.  While some types of dragonflies stay near water, meadowhawks can travel a great distance from their breeding pond.  Dragonflies are my favorite bug to see and watch.  They're not only beautiful, but they eat mosquitoes, of which there is certainly no shortage around here.  They also eat other soft-bodied flying insects including flies, small moths, mayflies, and flying ants.

image of Leaf-footed Bug
One of the not-so-nice looking bugs that I've seen quite often in our house is the Leaf-footed Bug (or coniferous seed bug), referring to the flat, leaf-like expansions of the hind legs.  They feed on plants, mostly seeds, and although can be pests on coniferous trees, they're not too destructive to otherwise healthy trees. The adults can wander into houses in the fall (as they have done at our house), crawling into wall voids and attics through cracks and gaps in the siding, foundation and eaves, or around windows after sunset. They cannot reproduce in the house, and like box elder bugs, they are completely harmless to people, pets or house and household contents, but they can be a huge annoyance. And you don't really want to squish them - they stink!  Although interesting looking, I think of them as ugly, slow, not-so-smart bugs - they're easy to catch and get rid of. 

Other interesting bug sightings include a Green Lacewing (good garden bug - like ladybugs, they eat aphids; unfortunately, I only saw a dead one in the house), Praying Mantis (also a good predator bug, feeding on other bugs; lots of these around - one even landed on my son's shoulder in the house during our first summer, and I had a one of them "watching" me one evening in the garage last summer as I stained our front door), and a Walking Stick (which we found sitting outside on the living room window frame, before the windows were replaced - it really did look like a stick, and moved very slowly).

But I think what's more interesting than seeing these bugs is that I actually don't mind sharing my space with some of these bugs, as long as they're harmless (at least to us and our house) and stay off in the corner somewhere out of my way where I can admire them from a distance.  I've certainly come a long way in bug tolerance from when I was a kid, growing up on the farm - I would freak at the site of any bug.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Journey (a poem)

The trail upon which we walk,
we dream, we laugh, we love.
(©Linda Spencer, 2012)

Lend me your ears
And I will tell you stories
And make you laugh.

Lend me your heart
And I will show you love
In its truest form – no strings attached.

Lend me your mind
And I will help you fill it
With dreams and grand ambitions.

Lend me your hand
And I will walk with you
Through this journey of life.

New Beginnings

It's the first week of Spring...a new season...a time of new beginnings.

As I take a walk around these five acres that called to me just two years before, with overgrown bushes, dying trees and neglected structures calling for renewal, I take stock of the damage caused by this winter's wind storms - small trees supporting their fallen comrades, poplars lying on the ground snapped off low at the trunk. 

 I climb the winding trail to the top of the ridge, and I see signs of new growth - new grass making its way through the old; bloodroot blossoms appearing through the fallen weeds of last Fall; the trees starting to bud; the forsythia becoming a bright yellow.

I reach the top of the ridge and hear the frogs chanting in the swamp below.  As I listen to their night time chants drown out all other sounds, I reflect on the storms of my own life these past few years, and the damage that almost broke my marriage - until one fateful day last fall, an accident that saved it. 

As I walk these woods and see new life emerging even through all the fallen and dead trees, these signs of Spring remind me that with each new day there is a new beginning...and I am grateful that I too have been given several.

Close friends are well aware of the troubles my husband and I have endured.  Some would think that his accident and the stresses that came with dealing with his new disability would end our marriage.  But the opposite has happened...through tragedy, we were given a new beginning for our life together - we have grown closer than ever before.  We look at what could be, rather than what has been.  Rather than anger and despair, we forgave and are more grateful for each other, for the support of friends and family, and for all that had been given to us...and the blessings continue with each new day.  I took time off to be with him, and I'm finding that with each day as he grows stronger, I grow stronger - in my love, my hope, and my faith...for my husband, and for my own life. 

Each day, each moment is a new beginning to start anew - to be inspired and to create the version of yourself and your life that you imagine it to be.  Thank you, Universe, for new beginnings.~Linda Spencer

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's a bug's life!

This winter, we have seen an increased number of ladybugs and box elder bugs in our home.  We had no such bugs last winter (but we had spiders).  Naturally, we wondered why these bugs have decided to camp out in our house this winter, and what can we do about them.  First, let me point out that both these bugs are generally harmless - they do not bite, and will not damage your home.  They are a nuisance, especially when there are more than just a few of them, and if you're not bug-friendly, they can make you want to clear the room.  But, where do these bugs come from, why did they come into the house, and what do they eat?

Boxelder Bugs:
(Boisea trivittata) These bugs feed on the seeds and stems of boxelder and other maple trees. They are harmless to landscape plants.  There is usually one generation per year, and the adults (and sometimes large nymphs) overwinter in masses in protected locations around the outside of structures. Sometimes adults will enter houses in small to large numbers.They can find their way in through any cracks or crevices in the home's exterior.  They are completely harmless, even in large numbers.  They do not bite but may stain fabric and carpet if crushed.  If they're in your home, the best way to get rid of them is to vacuum them up.

We would usually see these bugs cover the south side of our house on a sunny day, starting in early Spring when the weather warms up.  They likely would congregate for warmth behind the wood siding for the winter.   Since we removed all the siding this past summer, and haven't replaced it yet, and we chopped down the Manitoba Maple that grew beside the house in October, the boxelder bugs easily found their way into the house.  If you want to keep these bugs out of your house, make sure to seal any obvious cracks in your foundation, and check for openings around doors and windows.  Repair or replace broken window screens. 

Ladybugs, or ladybird beetles, are recognized as beneficial insects, eating large numbers of aphids and other small, sap-sucking insects, as well as pollen. Farmers value most species of ladybug adults and larvae since they eat a variety of plant-damaging insects, including aphids.  Ladybugs protect themselves against predators with their brightly coloured bodies (warning potential predators that it is poisonous, even though it is not), by secreting a bad tasting (and bad smelling) fluid when attacked, and by playing dead (they pretend they are dead until the danger passes).

They prefer the sunny sides of buildings, where they will crawl around until they find cracks or small openings, including window and door frames, garages doors and outbuildings, soffits, siding and shingles. They may accidentally find their way inside homes, and if they do it's best to ignore them or return them to the outdoors. They are looking for cool and sheltered places to hibernate. They cannot survive for long inside houses because suitable food is not available, and our houses are usually too dry for them in the winter. 

The ladybugs in our home like to spend their time in our bathroom, where it is more humid.  I've caught several hanging out in the sink, on the faucet and even trying to take a drink in the toilet (they do swim for a while, but eventually drown).  I was vacuuming up at least 10 ladybugs a day, but since I did some research on ladybugs, I've decided to let them be.  In so doing, I have found that the ladybug population in the house has remained steady at 6-10 bugs (when a couple die, a couple more show up), and several die each day on their own (from dehydration, or by drowning in the toilet).  Hopefully next year, we'll have our house will be properly sealed to keep the bugs out. 

I've read that you can keep ladybugs as pets, so perhaps I'll give the kids a project to do until Spring, when we can let put them safely back outside to do their job of controlling the aphid population.